Direct-to-home television in India
Direct-to-Home (DTH) television is a method of receiving satellite television by means of signals transmitted from direct-broadcast satellites. The Government of India permitted the reception and distribution of satellite television signals in November 2000. The first DTH service in the country was launched by Dish TV on 2 October 2003. DD Free Dish, the first free DTH service in India, was launched by public broadcaster Prasar Bharati in December 2004.
India is the largest DTH market in the world by number of subscribers. As on 30 June 2019, there were 54.36 million active pay DTH subscribers in the country. These figures do not include subscribers of free DTH services.
The Indian market is serviced by 5 paid DTH providers and one free DTH provider.
DTH services were first proposed in India in 1996. The proposal was not approved to due to concerns over national security and negative cultural influence. In 1997, the Government of India banned DTH services when Rupert Murdoch-owned Indian Sky Broadcasting (ISkyB) was about to launch its DTH services in the country. After deliberations among groups of ministers, DTH services were permitted by the NDA government in November 2000. The ministers made four key recommendations to govern DTH services: no single entity, either private or state-owned, should be permitted a monopoly in DTH services; the vertical integration of DTH and cable television services should be monitored in order to prevent the formation of a monopoly in television distribution; the vertical integration of DTH operators and television channels should be avoided in order to ensure fair competition among TV channels.
The new policy announced in November 2000 required all DTH operators to set up earth stations in India within 12 months of receiving a license. DTH licenses were priced at $2.14 million with a validity of 10 years. The FDI limit in the DTH sector was capped at 49%, and the company operating the services was required to be headed by an Indian citizen.
The first DTH service was launched in India on 2 October 2003 by Dish TV owned by Zee. The company decided not to compete against entrenched cable operators in metros and urban areas, and instead focused on providing services to rural areas and regions not serviced by cable television. Dish TV acquired 350,000 subscribers within 2 years of the launch. Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati launched DD Direct Plus (now DD Free Dish) in December 2004. The service is free and offers only free-to-air channels. Tata Sky was incorporated in 2004 as joint venture between the Tata Group and Star India's Parent Company. Tata Sky launched DTH services in August 2006. Unlike Dish TV, Tata Sky focused on metros and large cities hoping to attract customers away from cable by offering better picture and audio quality and wider selection of channels. Following legal proceedings between STAR and Zee, in 2007, the two companies called a truce and began offering their channels on each other's services. This decision and Dish TV's acquisition of more transponders enabled them to offer 150 channels on their service, more than any other DTH service in India at the time.
Sun Direct and Airtel digital TV launched services in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Reliance Big TV (now Independent TV) was launched in August 2008. The service acquired 1 million subscribers within 90 days of launch, the fastest ramp-up ever achieved by any DTH operator in the world. Videocon d2h launched its services in June 2009.
The total number of DTH subscribers in India rose from 1.5 million in 2005 to 23 million in 2010. Sun Direct became the first DTH provider to offer high-definition (HD) channels in early 2010. Tata Sky began offering HD channels later that year. Other DTH providers subsequently began carrying HD channels.
A la carte
On 3 September 2007, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Fourth Amendment) Regulation 2007, which went into law on December 1; the rules require all broadcasters to offer channels on an a la carte basis. The regulation states, "All broadcasters will compulsorily offer all their channels on a la carte basis to DTH operators. Additionally, they may also offer bouquets, but they will not compel any DTH operator to include the entire bouquet in any package being offered by DTH operators to their subscribers". Prior to the regulation, only customers in areas covered by the conditional access system (CAS), and cable systems providing the services, had the option of choosing to buy only the channels they were interested in. TRAI intervened after DTH operators complained that broadcasters were forcing them to carry channels that they did not want.
Several broadcasters, such as STAR India, Zee Turner, Set Discovery and Sun TV, challenged TRAI's order in the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). On 15 January 2008, TDSAT refused to grant a stay on the appeal challenging TRAI's directive; TDSAT overruled the broadcasters' objections. The agency later set aside TRAI's December 2007 tariff regime. TRAI challenged TDSAT's order in the Supreme Court, and stated in proceedings on 22 July 2010 that "in the analog, non-addressable environment, the authority is of the view that a la carte should not be made mandatory at the wholesale level as technological constraints in any case make it impossible for the benefits of a la carte provisioning to be passed on to subscribers".
TRAI ordered that pay television customers in India must be given a free choice of channels rather than be forced to choose package deals, enforcing a January 2011 deadline to implement the changes. The order stated, "Every service provider providing broadcasting services or cable services to its subscribers using an addressable system shall offer all pay channels to its subscribers on a la carte basis and shall specify the maximum retail price for each pay channel". Tata Sky, Airtel digital TV, Videocon d2h, and Reliance Digital TV launched A la carte options in January 2011.
The price of set top boxes (STB) in India has plummeted in the decade since DTH services were launched. A standard STB was priced at ₹3999 in 2003, but dropped to ₹500 by 2014. In the same year, a DVR box capable of recording television programmes was priced at ₹2500.
In September 2012, the Union Government raised the FDI cap in the DTH sector from 49% to 74%. The government permitted 100% FDI in the DTH industry in November 2015, with 49% through the automatic route and higher investments subject to government approval.
Videocon d2h began offering a preview of 4K Ultra HD content on its DTH service in July 2014, and launched India's first 4K Ultra HD channel on 26 January 2015. The channel is not dedicated to single genre and instead broadcasts video on demand (VOD), lifestyle and travel content, sports, infotainment, concerts and Hollywood films. The channel also telecasts 4K content created by international broadcasters. The first programs telecast on the channel were live broadcasts of select matches from the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. Tata Sky also offered live broadcasts of select matches in 4K.
Reliance Big TV was sold to Pantel Technologies and Veecon Media and Television in 2018. It was rebranded and relaunched as Independent TV. On 22 March 2018, Dish TV merged with Videocon d2h, creating the largest DTH provider in India.
List of DTH Providers
|S. No.||Service Provider||Launch date||Subscribers||Ownership|
|1||December 2004||35.0 million||Prasar Bharati|
|2||October 2003||29.0 million||Zee Entertainment Enterprises|
|3||Tata Sky||August 2006||17.39 million||Tata Sons (60%)|
The Walt Disney Company (through the acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets) (30%)
Temasek Holdings (10%)
|4||Airtel digital TV||October 2008||12.50 million||Bharti Airtel Limited (80%)
Warburg Pincus (20%)
|5||Sun Direct||December 2007||7.61 million||Sun Network (80%)|
Astro Group (20%)
This section needs to be updated.September 2018)(
The Department of Space (DoS) requires all DTH operators in India to only use satellites commissioned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). DTH operators may use capacity leased by ISRO from foreign satellites only if sufficient capacity is not available on ISRO satellites. The following 8 satellites are currently in use by Indian DTH service providers:
|Satellite||Owner||Launch date||Mission life||User(s)|
|MEASAT-3||MEASAT Satellite Systems||15 years||Freeview|
|NSS-6||SES S.A.||15 years||Freeview|
|AsiaSat 5||AsiaSat||17 years||Freeview|
All DTH services in India currently use the MPEG-4 standard of signal compression. MPEG-2 is still used by DishTV, TATA Sky, DD Free Dish. Upgradation is going on to shift from MPEG2 to MPEG4, but to shift completely from MPEG2 to MPEG4, the subscriber have to change his/her STB 1st because MPEG2 STB can not decode MPEG4 video signal. MPEG-2 permitted each transponder to carry approximately 20 SD channels (fewer, in case of HD channels), while MPEG-4 enables each transponder to carry approximately 50 SD channels (again, fewer in case of HD channels). The bandwidth required to carry a single HD channel is approximately equivalent to the bandwidth required to carry 4 SD channels.
- Pattan, Bruno (31 March 1993). Satellite Systems:Principles and Technologies. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9780442013578. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- "The Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators" (PDF) (Press release). TRAI. 1 October 2019. p. 94-95. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
- "What is DTH?". www.rediff.com. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- Gupta, Surajeet Das (2014-01-01). "10 years of DTH in India: The other electronics revolution". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- "Prasar Bharati DTH moving to pay mode? | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- "Big TV launched in August 2008". Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- "BIG TV crosses 1 Million Subscriber Mark Within The 90 Days of Launch" Archived 2014-04-29 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- Advisors, Technopak (2010-11-22). "KIT: The DTH industry in India". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- "Discovery launches India's first high definition channel". www.afaqs.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "Tata Sky to launch HDTV, more interactive channels this year". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "HD Channels: A Question of Resolution". www.businesstoday.in. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "Broadcasters to give channels a la carte to DTH operators: Trai". IndianTelevision.com. September 3, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Broadcasters must offer all channels". The Hindu. September 4, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "DTH companies can pick channels of choice: TRAI". The Hindu. September 3, 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- Sreejiraj Eluvangal (September 4, 2007). "Trai unbundles TV channels for DTH". Livemint. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Zee joins Sony to challenge Trai's regulation in non-CAS areas". IndianTelevision.com. November 21, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Sun moves Tdsat against Trai's a la carte pricing for non-CAS areas". IndianTelevision.com. January 4, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "A la carte Tariff Order valid from 1 Dec, Tdsat refuses stay". IndianTelevision.com. November 22, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "TDSAT refuses stay on Trai directive to broadcasters". Financial Express. January 15, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- Sanjay K Singh (July 22, 2010). "Trai wants to cap cable rate at Rs 250/month". India Times. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "TRAI seeks SC nod to notify tariff order". The Indian Express. January 26, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "A la carte menu for DTH subscribers at Rs. 150". The Hindu. July 22, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Pick and pay DTH channels from September". India Times. July 23, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "DTH players told to offer pay channels on la carte basis". The Hindu Business Line. July 23, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Now Airtel Digital TV announces a la carte pricing". IndianTelevision.com. January 18, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Videocon d2h offers channels a la carte". IndianTelevision.com. January 22, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Tata Sky allows subscribers to make their own packs". IndianTelevision.com. January 10, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- "Reliance Digital TV unveils a la carte menu". IndianTelevision.com. January 24, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- Chaudhary, Apurva (2012-09-14). "India Approves 74% FDI In DTH, Mobile TV & Other Broadcasting Services". MediaNama. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- KJ, Shashidhar (2015-11-10). "Govt eases FDI norms in broadcasting and 14 other sectors". MediaNama. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- "Videocon d2h rolls out India's first 4K Ultra HD channel". 2015-02-03. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "DTH - direct to Home - Videocon d2h satellite TV - DTH Services by Videocon d2h". www.videocond2h.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "With 4K TV Broadcasts Coming to India, Is It Time for You to Invest in a 4K TV?". Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "DTH operator Independent TV's FY18 net loss swells to Rs 119.3 cr". www.televisionpost.com. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
- "Independent TV secures content deals with broadcasters". www.televisionpost.com. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
- "Dish TV India, Videocon d2h merger completed". The Economic Times. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- "Dish TV plans to continue with Videocon D2H brand - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
- Laghate, Gaurav (2018-09-21). "DD FreeDish's free service a concern for broadcasters". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
- "A handy guide to Satellites used for broadcasting DTH signals in India". Telecomtalk.info. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2016.